One minute I was sitting in the bus catching up on emails, next minute I was knee high in mud saving ducklings. We recently had the great privilege of getting to park our bus at some friends place who live off grid. (Check out Lucy’s blog here). It was coming into evening and I was sitting in the bus with my laptop on my knee relaxing enjoying the environment catching up on emails when Rowan called me over. I did say, “hey if you guys need a hand with anything…” Next minute I am trying to negotiate my way over an electric fence with the kick of a mule to attempt landing on the grassy patch on the other side next to a muddy mozzie ridden creek. Yea well so much for a dignified landing on the grass bank as it begin to give way underneath me and my feet sinking into a warm gooey creek bottom and feeling my jandals embed there way deep down with no hope of returning with my feet as I lift my leg to attempt an escape.
Now trying to follow direction to help catch some ducklings I stand on the bank causally waving a stick around trying to encourage the ducklings into Bex’s hands while everyone else is diving head first full of commitment into the muddy abyss to ensure no loss of life for these wee fluffy balls of cuteness. I felt completely out of my element, yet the experience was one I won’t forget and the feeling of satisfaction knowing I had contributed in some way to seeing these wee things live another day.
This got me thinking about all the experiences we have had since being on the road. I realised how much each one has contributed to my new lease of life. How I laugh more often, and feel good about moving outside the world I knew, beyond the realms of my comfort zone. I relised how far I had removed myself from the feeling of achievement and sense of adventure. I was curious, are new experiences good for us in some way? Can they benefit our health and wellbeing? The answer is yes!
It has been shown that new experiences can be beneficial in combating anxiety and depression along with building self esteem. It can increase our sense of happiness and achievement. It builds our self confidence and enables us to take on even greater tasks and accomplish more in life.
I remember when I used to jump out of planes from 10,000ft in the clouds and the sense of being able to do anything I put my mind to. A few years later I traded that for a safe life and fear began to take it’s place. I was going to say undeserved place, but I had let it in by playing life safe and settling for a good life rather than an extraordinary life. Even the hiccups from experiences can produce positive results. I remember my eighth jump, a day I will never forget. I remember getting to the dropzone and packing my parachute and the jokes we were making about it not opening, I remember getting in the plane and thinking I needed to get out (it even had to stop for a while on the way to the runway to allow another plane to land), dismissing the thought we took off. I remember getting to 5,000 feet looking out the window and thinking, anything could happen out there you just don’t know. The door opened the wind rushed in and the plane lined up for the jump run, the engine buttoned off. It was my turn to climb out the door, combating the usual brain overload of natural survival I made my way out to the door with my legs hanging, my hands on the door frame then out I went. I reached for my rip cord counted to 5 then checked my chute, I distinctly remember looking at it and thinking yup all good. Then my brain engaged and I looked again and thought, that doesn’t look right. I had what they call a bag of washing, meaning my parachute was just a big knotted up ball of ripstop nylon and was not filling with air. Everything went into slow motion yet happening in a matter of seconds. I remember talking to the cut away handle and rip cord for my reserve chute saying, “I need to pull you and I don’t want to”. Pretty much over if that one doesn’t decide to open. I remember reaching for it, pulling and arching like I have never arched before, staring out to sea and feeling the adrenaline rush through my body as I look up with absolute relief to see this tiny blue square of nylon cloth spread wide above my head. That landing was the closest I have ever got to the dropzone target.
Some would say that was a bad experience and why even try skydiving, it sounds way too dangerous. Yet this is an experience I would never trade. First off how many people can say I jumped from the clouds, I got to fly relying on a piece of material to land safely on the ground after travelling at 200km an hour towards the earth. (My instructors called me a steam train due to my generous body mass allowing terminal velocity to arrive quickly for me). The thing is after this experience I found myself with a whole new level of confidence and began to apply myself to things I would never have tried before. It was an amazing stage in my life where I went out and tried so many new things.
You know in life we can have times our parachutes fail, something happens and it allows fear in or brings us to a place of playing it safe. We all have disappointments that can cripple us in a sense and keep us from ever pursuing the things we dream about. I had a choice after my parachute failing, I could hang it up and say well at least I gave it a go and walk away knowing I have been beaten, or I could hop back in that plane and try for a better outcome next time. Statistically it was very unlikely for that to happen again. I did do 5 more jumps that went amazing before heading off on my big OE.
For so many of us somewhere along the track we may have forgotten our sense of adventure and the feeling we used to get from trying new things. Maybe you had a parachute failure of some kind that has held you back from the life you imagined you would have. Maybe starting a business that failed and put you in debt, maybe you dreamed of being a musician but someone laughed at your ability to play an instrument. Whatever it may be, my advice would be pick it up again, have another go. Learn from the reasons it failed the first time or maybe the second or third. If you gave up walking the first time you fell as a toddler you would still be sitting on your butt at your parents house with a very narrow view and understanding of the world around you. But you didn’t, you tried again and again because that is what you were naturally designed to do until you walked. That hasn’t changed, you are still designed to try again until you are flying.
My encouragement to you? Try something new this week, take yourself outside your comfort zone and that thing you have been thinking about giving a go? give it a go! The view is so much better when you are flying!